Bite into a South Carolina peach, and you'll know exactly what summer tastes like.
Kissed by the sun and blessed by nature, this Southern favorite bursts with flavor. Peaches are sweet and juicy, nutritious and delicious. When you sink your teeth into a tree-ripened peach and let the juice trickle down your chin, it's an act of pure pleasure. It feeds the body and soothes the soul.
Contrary to what most people believe, South Carolina produces more peaches than any other Southern state. No matter which corner of the Palmetto State you visit, you'll find farmers selling peaches. We'll introduce you to three families with long traditions in the peach business, but there are plenty more. Just explore the back roads, and you're sure to discover a delightful farm market or roadside stand.
And when you do, you'll know you've found summer.
James and the Killer Bs
Follow State 11 across northwestern South Carolina, and you'll find a small community called Cooley Springs, about 6 miles west of Chesnee. "It's as pretty a spot as you'll find anywhere in the state of South Carolina," says family patriarch Gene Cooley.
Indeed, the hills seem to roll a tad more gently here. Peach trees blanket the land in both directions as far as you can see. There's a red-roof ice-cream parlor and restaurant on the hill, and just past that, an American flag planted with more than 5,000 flowers. In the south curve of the road sits an old-fashioned barn, gussied up with colorful signs, barrels of flowers, and miles of red, white, and blue banners fluttering in the warm summer breeze.
With its cheerful countenance and constant traffic, the barn has the look of a political rally or a country fair instead of a farm market, which suits James Cooley just fine. "When they hit the brakes, I know I've got a chance," says the third-generation farmer. "If they see something that makes them slow down and take a look, there's a chance they'll turn in. If they ever stop, I'm going to sell them a peach."